African American Speakers Leading The Way in 2023 and Beyond
It’s no secret that the past few years have shed light on the consistent racial injustices against African Americans that are still prevalent in today’s society. As the world becomes more aware of the systematic oppression that lingers in our everyday lives, it’s important to understand the vital role that the African American community plays in our nation and that Black Lives Matter (BLM).
From Black inventors (like the inventor of the traffic light, ironing board, and microphone), to social activists who fought for civil rights of Black and Brown people in America; Black people have always been an essential part of the economic and social shaping of our country.
We are extremely proud to represent some of the world’s most inspiring, motivating, resilient, and influential Black speakers on the circuit. They come from all backgrounds, including roles as singers, COOs, CEOs, surgeons, TV personalities, actresses, and more. Their unique perspectives and impactful stories are world-renowned for igniting change, disruption, diversity, and inclusion in well-known organizations and companies, through 2023 and beyond.
- Jonathan Capehart, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Television Personality
- Cassi Chandler, Motivational Leadership Expert, FBI’s First African American Female Special Agent Assistant Director
- Dr. Tarika Barrett, CEO, Girls Who Code
- Dr. Wendy Borlabi, High-Performance Expert, Director of Performance and Mental Health for the Chicago Bulls
- Nichol Bradford, Futurist and Transformative Tech Pioneer, Founder, & Executive
- Ginny Clarke, Former Director, Executive Recruiting at Google and Holistic Leadership Strategist
- Reggie Fils-Aimé, Former President and COO of Nintendo of America Inc.
- Dethra Giles, Executive Leadership & HR Strategist, Modern Workplace Influencer, Career Consultant
- Joan Higginbotham, Retired NASA Astronaut, Electrical Engineer, & Third African American Woman in Space
- Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Life Sciences Leader, Former EVP, Chief Medical Officer, & Chief Patient Officer at Pfizer, Inc.
- Jessica O. Matthews, Innovator and CEO, Uncharted
- Jonathan Mayes, DEI Expert, Former Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Albertsons Companies
- Hakeem Oluseyi, Astrophysicist, Former Space Science Education Lead for NASA, and Inspirational Speaker
- Dr. Sammy Ramsey, Inspirational Changemaker in Science & Society; Cutting-Edge Communicator; Founder & Director of the Ramsey Research Foundation
- Nikkia Reveillac, Business Insights & Strategy Leader, Organization Designer & Builder, and Director, Consumer Insights at Netflix
- Andre Rush, Celebrity Chef, Decorated U.S. Army Combat Veteran, Mental Health & Wellness Advocate, TV Host
- Dr. Michael Sorrell, Visionary Leader, Institutional Change Agent, President of Paul Quinn College
- James D. White, Transformational Leader and Former Chair, President, & CEO of Jamba Juice
- Sekou Andrews, Grammy-Nominated Creator of "Poetic Voice" & Inspirational Speaker
- Maurice Ashley, First African-American Chess Grandmaster, Analyst, Commentator and Emcee
- Geoff Bennett, PBS NewsHour Co-Anchor
- Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley
Check out some of our African American speakers below:
Jonathan Capehart is a journalist and television personality who has worked as a policy advisor to Michael Bloomberg’s campaign, a national affairs columnist, and was a member of the Daily News editorial board which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. He currently writes for The Washington Post’s PostPartisan blog and is a contributor for MSNBC. Learn more about Jonathan Capehart.
CASSI CHANDLER | Motivational Leadership Expert, FBI’s First African American Female Special Agent Assistant Director
Cassandra “Cassi” Chandler is an innovator, strategist, investigator, and leader who has broken barriers, led diverse teams, and built cultures of motivational leadership and inclusivity at some of the world’s most important organizations, including Bank of America and the FBI. Learn more about Cassi Chandler.
With a career dedicated to addressing inequities in education and helping young women of all backgrounds succeed, Dr. Tarika Barrett is at the forefront of expanding the pipeline of women entering tech and removing the obstacles that stand in the way of them reaching their full potential. As the CEO of Girls Who Code, an international non-profit organization disrupting the tech industry and transforming perceptions of what a programmer can look like, she spearheads initiatives aimed at closing the gender gap in technology by inspiring, educating, and equipping young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. Learn more about Tarika Barrett.
DR. WENDY BORLABI | High-Performance Expert, Director of Performance and Mental Health for the Chicago Bulls
Renowned performance psychologist Dr. Wendy Borlabi has worked alongside everyone from athletes to C-suite executives to Navy SEALs in order to get them into the right mindset to consistently perform at an elite level. She brings the mindset-shifting tools and strategies she implements in her daily work with the Chicago Bulls as she demonstrates to groups how they can address anxiety and mental barriers, make progress toward achieving individual and collective goals, and position themselves to perform at a championship level day in and day out. Learn more about Dr. Wendy Borlabi.
Working at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, behavior, technology, and science, Nichol Bradford’s mission is to empower human transformation and wellbeing by catalyzing new visions, opportunities, and tech-enabled tools for all. She ignites new ways to use technology to expand beyond our perceived limits and reach our fullest potential through her global non-profit Transformative Tech.org, working with talented researchers, founders, and investors across the globe who build tech for human health and happiness that will redefine wellbeing for the next decade. Learn more about Nichol Bradford.
Dedicated to helping leaders create the conscious workplace for tomorrow, Ginny Clarke has advised at the highest levels of corporate America for decades. A proven expert in driving diverse leadership, she is the former director of executive recruiting at Google, where she led the company’s diversity, non-tech recruiting, and leadership internal mobility teams – finding and hiring senior leaders across the company. She also built a scaled internal mobility program for Google’s senior leaders to advance within the organization, and designed much of the infrastructure that supports their executive recruiting function today. Learn more about Ginny Clarke.
An award-winning innovator and disruptor, Reggie Fils-Aimé is a proven expert on transforming companies, re-vitalizing brands, and reshaping industries to solve daunting challenges and achieve ‘the impossible.’ Most recently, he was the president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America – the first American and African-American to hold this position. Learn more about Reggie Fils Aime.
Known as the "CEO-Maker," "DEI Professor, and the "Cubicle to Corner Office Empress," Dethra Giles shares practical strategies for how to communicate more effectively, own the room with your voice, create more inclusive cultures, and turn ideas into action and impact. Throughout her career, she has advised several of the world's top organizations, including Kaiser Permanente, the Centers for Disease Control, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, and the National Basketball Association. Learn more about Dethra Giles.
JOAN HIGGINBOTHAM | Retired NASA Astronaut, Electrical Engineer, & Third African American Woman in Space
A former NASA astronaut, Joan Higginbotham is a trailblazing electrical engineer who, in December 2006, flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116 to become the third African American woman to travel into space. Over the nearly 13-day mission, she joined the seven-member crew to continue construction of the International Space Station (ISS), embarking on four space walks and operating the station’s robotic arm. Learn more about Joan Higginbotham.
DR. FREDA LEWIS-HALL | Life Sciences Leader, Former EVP, Chief Medical Officer, & Chief Patient Officer at Pfizer, Inc.
A pioneer in medicine and leadership, Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA, MFPM has been on the frontlines of healthcare for more than 40 years as a clinician, researcher, and leader in the biopharmaceuticals and life sciences industries. Learn more about Freda Lewis-Hall.
Jessica O. Matthews is the Founder & CEO of Uncharted, an award-winning, full-service power and data infrastructure company. The Company's proprietary suite of technologies enables it to build, own and operate decentralized power infrastructure for communities with various applications for edge colocation, power, and sensing. Developing technologies in energy generation, transmission and storage, the Company also has mastered harnessing kinetic energy, enabling it to engineer consumer products for Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. and various international governments. The Company was founded by Jessica when she was only 22 years old. Learn more about Jessica O Matthews.
JONATHAN MAYES | DEI Expert, Former Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Albertsons Companies
Among the most influential retail industry executives for nearly three decades, Jonathan Mayes has been one of the leading voices in elevating diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organizations he has served. He is a visionary who continues to drive the change toward a more representative and equitable workforce. Learn more about Jonathan Mayes.
Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi has three degrees, 8 U.S. patents, four E.U. patents and has hosted shows on the Science Channel and on Discovery. But more impressive is his life story. Oluseyi grew up in the roughest neighborhoods of America, learned to survive on the street, and still taught himself Einstein’s theory of relativity from an old set of encyclopedias. At every turn he was presented with a compelling option to quit and yet he persevered. Today, he is a world-renowned astrophysicist (most recently working at NASA), a global educator, and the author of a highly-anticipated upcoming memoir The Stars in My Soul: My Unlikely Journey through Space and Time where he recounts his journey from the streets to the stars. Learn more about Hakeem Oluseyi.
DR. SAMMY RAMSEY | Inspirational Changemaker in Science & Society; Cutting-Edge Communicator; Founder & Director of the Ramsey Research Foundation
A truly inspirational underdog story, Dr. Sammy Ramsey has overcome every setback in order to make a monumental impact in the worlds of science and entomology. He is credited with making a groundbreaking discovery that could solve the largest global problem affecting bees — this is after originally being removed from his doctoral program because he "didn't look like a scientist." Dr. Ramsey is an warm and energetic presence on stage who inspires audiences to tap into the power of peculiar thinking to innovate within their organizations and solve their business challenges. Learn more about Dr. Sammy Ramsey.
NIKKIA REVEILLAC | Business Insights & Strategy Leader, Organization Designer & Builder, and Director, Consumer Insights at Netflix
A visionary, thought leader, and change agent in the arenas of innovation, marketing strategy, organizational design, and team culture enhancement, Nikkia Reveillac has driven success at some of the world’s leading brands by artfully challenging the status quo and thoughtfully asking the questions that others are so often afraid to. A strategic insights leader, Reveillac has an extraordinary ability to quickly transform and elevate multi-disciplinary teams and drive smarter decision-making to shape winning brand, marketing, innovation, and communication strategies. Learn more about Nikkia Reveillac.
ANDRE RUSH | Celebrity Chef, Decorated U.S. Army Combat Veteran, Mental Health & Wellness Advocate, TV Host
Braving the heat of battle and thriving in the heat of the White House kitchen, renowned celebrity Chef Andre Rush has stood side-by-side with some of the world’s greatest leaders, allowing him to see the business world in unconventional ways and offering him unique insight into the elements of leadership that move people to action. Learn more about Andre Rush.
Dr. Michael Sorrell passed up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a co-owner of the Memphis Grizzlies for a higher purpose. In 2007, he took the reins as the president of struggling historically Black college Paul Quinn College and spearheaded one of the great turnaround stories of our time. Drawing from the twists and turns on the journey of leading Paul Quinn College's evolution into a higher education powerhouse, Dr. Sorrell speaks to the importance of being authentic and establishing a vision as a leader, and shares tried-and-true wisdom for how leaders can unite their people around a shared mission. Learn more about Dr. Michael Sorrell.
A transformational leader with more than 30 years of experience as a CEO and operating executive, James D. White has overseen the evolution and growth of some of the world’s most iconic brands in the consumer products, retail, and restaurant industries. Most recently as the former chair, president, and CEO of Jamba Juice, he led the successful turnaround and transformation of the company from smoothie shop to a leading global, healthy active lifestyle brand, and has held senior executive roles at Safeway Stores, Inc., the Gillette Company, Nestle-Purina PetCare, and Coca-Cola. Learn more about James D. White here.
Sekou Andrews is the Founder/CEO of SekouWorld, Inc., innovator of “Poetic Voice,” and one of the most successful spoken word poets in the world. On any given day, this schoolteacher turned artist and entrepreneur, who built a 7-figure company on poetry, can be found keynoting at a Fortune 500 company, inspiring thousands at a concert, or performing for Barack Obama in Oprah’s backyard. Learn more about Sekou Andrews.
Maurice Ashley made history in 1999 when he became the first African-American chess grandmaster. He is a three-time national championship coach, author of Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. Learn more about Maurice Ashley.
An award-winning, headline-grabbing political correspondent who draws from his experiences breaking the latest news out of Washington and interviewing the leaders behind the headlines to dissect today's hot topics from inside the White House and Congress with a unique blend of straight analysis of the facts and sharp, non-partisan color commentary. Learn more about Geoff Bennett.
Carla Harris is Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and a leading keynote speaker on motivation, success, and exceeding expectations. In her current role at Morgan Stanley, she is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She has extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. Learn more about Carla Harris.
At Leading Authorities, we are proud of our speakers and the work they are doing to combat systematic racism and oppression through Black Lives Matter. For additional information on how to get involved with the movement to fight for liberation and justice for all, please click one the links below:
- Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an organization dedicated to the equality of black men and women. Their mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”
- Color of Change is a civil rights organization motivated to “design winning strategies to change the written and unwritten rules in the industries that affect Black people’s lives the most and have the greatest potential to advance racial justice.”
- LDF is an organization advocating for Black rights. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks “structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.”
- The Black Alliance for Just Immigration is an advocator for civil rights. They “believe that a thriving multiracial democracy requires racial, social and economic justice for all. African Americans and black immigrants are stronger together and we can win by becoming leaders in the fight against structural racism and systemic discrimination."